It was a bad weekend for punditry. For weeks, and in some cases years, people have been talking nonsense, and they got exposed this weekend. Let's look at the media lies that were exposed this weekend.
1. Peyton Manning had a bad game against the Jets.
The big winner this weekend didn't step on the field. Suddenly, Peyton Manning's 108 rating and four scoring drives look pretty good against that Jets defense, doesn't it? As much as Bill Simmons, Peter King, Jason Whitlock, Kerry Byrne, Bob Kravitz and a host of others want to nitpick Manning's performance against the Jets, the truth is that he had an incredible game. The Colts only had 8 possessions in that game and put up 16 points and four scoring drives. Ignoring the final drive, the Pats had 11 possessions and put 14 points on three drives. Tom Brady, coming off one of the greatest seasons in history, playing at the top of his game, didn't have nearly the game against the Jets that Manning did a week earlier. Suddenly, all the ripping of Manning for throwing a low ball to Blair White on a drive where his team took the lead with under a minute to play seems patently ridiculous. Ok, so it wasn't sudden. It was always ridiculous. But still.
2. The Colts play calling was too conservative.
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Guilty. I was wrong. After watching the Jets clamp down on the Pats, I admit that I feel better about the game-planning by the Indy coaches. That's an incredible defense. Given the personnel Indy had to work with and the field position they had, 16 points is a good effort. I apologize to the coaches. I still feel the end of half drive was too conservative, and I hated the second field goal decision, but I have to say that the offensive game plan made a lot more sense after watching the Jets destroy a vastly superior offense in New England. I had that wrong. Very wrong.
3. The Colts should have thrown to Reggie Wayne more.
I had no problem with Peyton ignoring Reggie Wayne, but for some reason people have started to criticize Manning for it. Yesterday showed that that Revis guy...he's pretty amazing. Every pass thrown his way is a potential interception. Revis had the Pats locked down all day. Avoiding him is never a bad choice.
4. Momentum means something.
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I would have have thought we killed that one last year. The Jets lost 3 of 5 to close the year, but beat the Pats and Colts both on big winning streaks. The Seahawks had won two in a row, and the Bears lost their last game. The Falcons had won 9 of 10 games. The Ravens had won five in a row. 'Getting hot' isn't a thing. It's all about who you play this week and how you match up.
5. Tom Brady is a playoff god.
Tom Brady is a wonderful quarterback, one of the 10 best to ever play. He does not 'elevate' his game to some other level in the playoffs. When he's good, it's only because he's usually good. After an impossible 10-0 start to his playoff career, the Pats are now 4-5 in his last 9 games. What changed? Something that has NOTHING to do with Brady. He's gotten dramatically better as a quarterback. The Pats defense has imploded, and the Pats have stopped winning Super Bowls. The worst decision Belichick ever made was to alter the identity of the Pats from defensive warhorse to offensive juggernaut. Brady hasn't had any more playoff success with that model than Peyton Manning did. Defense wins championships, not floppy haired demi-gods.
6. Direct snaps to running backs are a good idea.
I get why the Jets try it (their QB sucks), but if Belichick wanted to go for a fourth down, he should have left his 'best offense in history' on the field to do it. I hate snaps to the runningback. HATE THEM. It's a lame gimmick that I love to watch fail.
7. Points scored are a good way to measure an offense game by game.
This is a favorite of Cold Hard Football Facts. Team X averaged 24 points in the regular season, but only scored 17 in the playoffs. Their quarterback is a choker. So goes the argument, only take out team X and insert "The Indianapolis Colts". The Ravens Steelers game showed the folly of that reasoning. The Ravens scored 24 points. That's a hefty total against a good defense. The problem is that they had scoring drives of 0 (defensive score), 16, and 23 yards long. The Steelers put up 31 on one of the best Ds in the league. They did it with the aid of 23, 22, and 6 yard drives. The Jets put up 28 points, a hefty sum. The truth is that had Green just gone down in bounds at the 1, the Jets would have never had to cover a final onsides kick. 21 would have been better than 28 for the purposes of winning the game.
8. Aaron Rodgers is a choker.
Rodgers has a bad reputation in the clutch for his awful mark in one score games. As I pointed out earlier this year, that's probably just luck. Rodgers has had three insane games to start his playoff career, and might be the best quarterback left in the playoffs.
Last year, the media ripped the Bears for acquiring Jay Cutler and dumping 'underrated' Kyle Orton. Orton, who piled up big stats in Denver has since lost his starting job and the Broncos imploded. The Bears are playing at home for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Can we please stop with these stupid categories? Teams win and lose. Quarterbacks don't. A loser is a quarterback on a bad team. A winner is a quarterback on a good team.
10. The Patriots secondary is improving.
Frankly, I never saw it. The Pats defense played better as the offense caught fire and forced teams to be one dimensional. Yesterday proved, however, that the Pats defense was utterly fraudulent. Mark Sanchez is NOT a good quarterback. He's not accurate. He sprays passes. He also LIT UP the Pats seconary. After New England cut the Jets lead to 14-11, the old Patriots would have gotten stops and probably won the game. The new "Brady-centric" Pats folded like a cheap tent. Sanchez passed four times for 75 yards as the Jets ripped through the Pats in 5 plays to take a 10 point lead early in the fourth quarter.
After the Pats lost to the Colts in '06, Belichick rebuilt the Pats around Tom Brady and the offense. The results have been some of the most incredible seasons in history...followed by massive playoff failures. The Patriots defense is eroding and so is Brady's reputation.
11. It's a bad idea to rile up Tom Brady.
Don't trash talk him or he'll go out and suck royally and act confused all day.
12. Tom Brady has great pocket presence.
Brady was sacked 5 times, frequently going down after time to throw. His line gave him all day to throw, but Brady hung on to the ball too long. The ability to not take a sack is vastly underrated. Brady looked lost yesterday, seemingly so confused by the coverage that he failed to see that his pocket was collapsing. His sacks came with 3, 5, 6, 3 and 4 seconds to throw. That's plenty of time to get rid of the ball. He was terrible.
13. Belichick controls every aspect of the Pats
Watching him on the sidelines openly wondering why the Pats weren't passing was surreal. I half expected him to march onto the field and start throwing it himself.
14. Field position is meaningless.
Belichick mentioned it as one of the key reasons the Pats lost the game. He's right. Against a bad defense, field position doesn't matter. That's why I never want the Colts to punt...the defense is rarely good. Against an elite defense, however, it matters where you start. The Steelers Ravens game showed that as well.
15. The NFL playoffs show us which team is the best in the NFL.
The playoffs are a giant crapshoot. They aren't designed to pit the best teams in the Super Bowl (like last year). They are designed to give everyone a shot a the title. The Super Bowl winner isn't the best team in the NFL. They are the team that wins the tournment. There is a huge difference. The Pats were the best team in the NFL this year. They are not winning it all.
16. It's a massive upset when the 6 beats the 1 seed.
Back when the Steelers dumped the Colts in '05 it was a shocking upset, but the 1-6 matchup is more hazardous than ever. Both top seeds were beaten at home by six seeds, and the Packers game wasn't even a huge upset.
17. Quarterbacks win games.
Anyone still believe this? Brady, Manning, and Brees are 1, 2 and 3 on every single QB list on earth. All three are out. Cutler and Sanchez are still playing. What does that tell you?
18. Mark Sanchez is a winner.
Oh no. No matter how many you kill, they keep coming back with new ones...